from the archives: frankenmusic(s)

Originally posted (under the title ‘beta test 11-10-08: preamble’) on November 25, 2008 in response to the testing session with Franziska Schroeder, and to Franziska’s article. This testing session took place a year and a half before io 0.0.1 beta++’s public debut, and at this stage io was very much work in progress.

Han-earl Park and io 0.0.1 beta++ (prototype) (Cork, March 26, 2009). Photo copyright 2009 Franziska Schroeder.

Han-earl Park and io 0.0.1 beta++ (prototype) (Cork, March 26, 2009). Photo © 2009 Franziska Schroeder.

Almost eight years ago, when io-to-be was a bunch of discorporate code fragments, Sara Roberts remarked that the enterprise of constructing a machine improvisers wasn’t so much megalomanic as Frankensteinian.

Fifteen days ago, during the break between beta test sessions, Franziska Schroeder asked a pithy question that cut to the core of this enterprise: what do I hope to achieve? My answer surprised me even as it reminded me of Sara’s observation: my goal with io (and io++) is to encapsulate my take on improvisation—its mechanisms, its sociality, its significance. As I’ve written elsewhere,

improvisation is performance; it is an act; it is something you do. In order to make an artifact behave analogously to an improviser, I need to ascertain what might pass for, or what might function in the place of, improvisation. To venture into the construction of an improviser is to ask what is improvisation.

[read the whole thing…]

I’d anticipated that consulting with other improvisers with different backgrounds, practices and histories would be helpful to this construction, but I hadn’t guessed that it would bring into relief issues that lie at the kernel of this enterprise.

the techno-musical is political? personal?

This is the first time I’ve embodied the role of (techno-musical) project leader. That’s a problematic enough… but the interrogation and problematization of the technical construction was an interrogation and problematization of Han the constructor, improviser and, for lack of better word, theorist.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I am reminded that this exploding—this interrogation and problematization—is how improvisers evolve, and the conditions under which practices and approaches mutate.

the machine that once could

In a sense io is stuck as a un-mutant improviser. It encapsulates what I though of improvisation seven years ago. Fine then; not now.

In my report to the Arts Council I wrote that

in exploring improvisation… and in the collision with other approaches and sensibilities, I have learned that this enterprise is ever-evolving as it adapts to new situations and contexts.

Although, io 0.0.1 beta++ as a funded project has a (bureaucratically necessary) end, perhaps it, as an entity, and as a focal point of practice and performance, is—road movie-like—a much more open ended enterprise.

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Han-earl Park with mystery saxophonist (New York, 02-24-13)

Han-earl Park and mystery saxophonist
Sunday, February 24, 2013, at 6:00pm (our set: 7:00pm): a performance by Han-earl Park (guitar) with mystery saxophonist takes place at the Downtown Music Gallery (13 Monroe Street, New York, NY 10002-7351). [Details…]

I can’t say how this is relevant to machine improvisation, machine musicianship, or musical automata, but I will say that it will be of interest to those who have been following—watching, listening, and reading about—the io 0.0.1 beta++ enterprise.

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Technological Singularity as apocalyptic religious phenomena

io 0.0.1 beta: graphic representation of generative process
Noted cyberpunk author and general critic of all things technocultural, Bruce Sterling has caused a minor storm by telling us that the Technological Singularity is “just not happening” and that “all the symptoms [of the Singularity] are absent” [via io9…].

In the midst of Sterling’s general critique of the Oracles of The Singularity, for me the need for skepticism in regards The Singularity are encapsulated at the end of his piece:

…As a Pope once remarked, “Be not afraid.” We’re getting what Vinge predicted would happen without a Singularity, which is “a glut of technical riches never properly absorbed.” There’s all kinds of mayhem in that junkyard, but the AI Rapture isn’t lurking in there. It’s no more to be fretted about than a landing of Martian tripods. [Read the rest…]

No one, despite the pretty charts, has observed or measured the Singularity as empirical phenomena, nor has anyone demonstrated, as did physicists with another kind of singularity, what the parameters of the unknowable are. And, with a singularity, we are talking about the demonstrably unknowable, not simply the unknown.

Similar to lazy Artificial Intelligence arguments hinging on the dogma of speed, size and complexity, the assertion of the coming Singularity is an apocalyptic religious phenomena: a pseudo-science masquerading as empirical prediction. No one has demonstrated that cultural, social phenomena can be charted on a simple cartesian grid, and no one has demonstrated the validity of pronouncing upon such charts except as an act of faith. The fact that the Oracles of The Singularity see an apocalyptic vision says more about the culture space the Oracles are embedded in (shared as it is with doom-sayers of many persuasions) than about the nature of technological and cultural change.

…which, of course, makes both the Technological Singularity as narrative, and the evangelical selling of that narrative, just as interesting from a culture-arts practitioners’ POV 😉

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current state 2013: human actors

Still planning to take the io 0.0.1 beta++ on the road in 2014, but, in the meantime, here’s what the machine improviser’s (human) colleagues have been up to since last year’s update, and a little of what’s coming up in 2013.

Han-earl Park

Based in Brooklyn, during 2012, Han-earl Park has been performing with Michael Evans, Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen, Josh Sinton, Andrew Drury and others. He participated in Gowanus Company IV at the Douglass Street Music Collective, and as part of Out Of Your Head Brooklyn. A particular musical highlight was the performance with Tim Perkis and Harris Eisenstadt at The Stone (NYC) on September 7. On May 27, Eris 136199 (Nick Didkovsky, Han-earl Park and Catherine Sikora) debuted at Citizens Ontological Music Agenda/ABC No Rio (NYC).

2012 also saw the release of Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park’s ‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd) from Creative Sources. A CD with a “bazillions of events” and of “transonic beauty and extreme structural atomization” according to Massimo Ricci, the record made Délire actuel’s 2012 Demanding Music Top 30. Barrett and Park performed in Scarborough on May 3, 2012. During that micro-tour, Park also performed as part of Mathilde 253 (with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith) at Freedom of the City (London), and as guest performer with the Mark Hanslip/Dominic Lash/Phillip Marks trio at Jazz @ The Oxford (London).

Audio recordings coming out in 2013 include ‘apophenia: A atomic symphony in 10 movements ii you seek iii a comfortable spot to listen iv to this v track the sofa perhaps vi or the vii floor however viii standing hand ix suspended over the volume x control you xi find that xii it is’ as part of ‘The $100 Guitar Project’ (BRIDGE 9381A/B) from Bridge Records, and the rerelease of the download album with Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders which will be the final in the current series of download releases from (an earlier release in that series was with io 0.0.1 beta++ collaborator, Franziska Schroeder).

In addition to continuing his work with existing projects including Eris 136199, in 2013, Park will be performing and documenting a set of interactive, improvisative macros (he hesitates to actually call them compositions). Catherine Sikora and Josh Sinton and Park will perform an initial test-run at On The Way Out/Freddy’s (Brooklyn) on March 26.

Bruce Coates

‘Node/Flow/Mass Disaster Box’ at Magna (Rotherham, November 4, 2012). Photo copyright 2012 Bruce Coates.

‘Node/Flow/Mass Disaster Box’ at Magna (Rotherham, November 4, 2012). Photo © 2012 Bruce Coates.

Notable performance events in 2012 included the ‘Node/Flow/Mass Disaster Box’ at Magna (Rotherham) in November:

‘Node/Flow/Mass Disaster Box’ is an improvised sound piece bringing together 50 vocal and musical improvisers from the Midlands and South Yorkshire, performing on this magnificent post-industrial site. Birmingham Improvisers’ Orchestra and Juxtavoices, a unique Sheffield experimental anti-choir, provide the core of the performers along with musicians from all over the country.

Devised by Geoff Bright and Walt Shaw, the piece works with the idea of social processes and flows where individuals gather in groups, congregate as large collectives and disperse once again. Through sound improvisation it explores the history and atmosphere of the building and the spririt involved in the evacuation of the workplace. All inspired by the original 1970s steelworks’ ‘Diaster Box’, which contained plans, maps and procedures for evacuation in the event of a catastrophic explosion. [Read the rest…]

In addition to performances by the Birmingham Improvisers’ Orchestra, new projects for 2013 include a duo with Walt Shaw, and a trio with Christopher Hobbs (percussion/electronics) and Virginia Anderson (clarinets) which will be debuting at Fizzle (Birmingham) on February 5.

Franziska Schroeder

Franziska Schroeder, Showcase Concert 2012 flyer. Copyright 2012, Franziska Schroeder; photograph by Caroline Forbes.

Franziska Schroeder, Showcase Concert 2012 flyer. © 2012, Franziska Schroeder. Photograph by Caroline Forbes.

In 2012 Franziska Schroeder had a few exciting gigs, such as playing with her trio FAINT at the Perspective on Musical Improvisation in Oxford, commissioning new works for saxophones, premiered at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Belfast, playing at the Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival in Canterbury, as well as doing a great new work with Evan Parker and a group of traditional and improvising contemporary musicians, premiered at the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music, Belfast.

Schroeder was the Artistic Director of the Sonorities Festival, and she is also now the Chair of the Events Committee of the School of Creative Arts (CATE) at Queen’s University Belfast.

Schroeder published two chapters, one on the changes of form in music as brought forth by digital platforms. The chapter is ‘Shifting Listening Identities—Towards a Fluidity of Form in Digital Music’, and appears in S. Broadhurst and J. Machon (eds.), Identity, Performance and Technology: Practices of Empowerment, Embodiment and Technicity (Palgrave Macmillan).

The other chapter is co-authored with choreographer and pianist Imogene Newland and is entitled ‘The Musical Body—Devising a choreo-musical interpretation for the work Tierkreis (1974–75) by Karlheinz Stockhausen’. The work will appear in Nine Ways of Seeing a Body: Body & Performance (Triarchy Press) in 2013.

Schroeder is working hard on editing and writing for a forthcoming volume on improvisation, to include writings by David Borgo, Georgina Born and Evan Parker. Forthcoming in 2013: Improvisation in the 21st Century (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

And last, Schroeder received a teaching development grant from the HEA (Higher Education Academy) to run the PhD public engagement training called ‘BIG EARS – learning to design sonic arts’ [Twitter…].

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from the archives: io + I met

Note from the editor (Han-earl Park): This piece by Franziska Schroeder was originally posted November 24, 2008 in response to the first testing session with Franziska. This testing session took place a year and a half before io 0.0.1 beta++’s public debut, and at this stage io was very much work in progress.

Franziska Schroeder and io 0.0.1 beta++ (prototype) (Cork, March 26, 2009)

Franziska Schroeder and io 0.0.1 beta++ (prototype) (Cork, March 26, 2009)

On the 10th of November 2008 I had the great pleasure to meet io.

She seemed a rather calm, clandestine creature, not saying much… not moving much, in fact not engaging with me much at all. However, she appeared to be a ‘saxophonistic’ persona—shiny, slightly shimmering in the sunlit surroundings.

But who is io? What does she sound like? How would she react to me? Would she respond? Would she challenge me (musically, that is). In other words, would she adopt sensitively to changes, make creative contributions and develop musical ideas suggested by me?

All sorts of questions went through my head before I even had played a note.
I was not told much about io in advance, in order to engage with her without any preconceptions.

I played and I listened…. io’s steady, breathy and rather regular sighs reminded me of a machinic engagement I had in 2000 when working on a piece entitled “Aquas Liberas.” That piece was based on recordings made in the Águas Livres Aqueduct, in Lisbon, Portugal. I had visited several machine rooms where water was pumped across pipes and the breathy machinic air sounds from the Lisbon site were reminiscent of io’s, at times, dis-engaged, de-contextualised replies.

I stopped. We talked. I played again and listened. I had found out a bit more about io and the next time I tried to ‘please’ her. I tried to soothe her into a calm, less hasty, more spacious musical dialogue. We engaged a little better.

I stopped. We talked. I played again. I wanted her to listen. This time she would need to be ‘with’ me. If the musical ideas dried up and we needed to stop she would need to listen. But she ignored me. The musical journey seemed to come to a halt (from my point of listening).

io carried on. I went along, trying to get her to conclude, to find a musical ending. io carried on. Why won’t she listen? Why won’t she acknowledge that we need to finish? io carried on. No surprises. No quest for anything new. No fresh ideas. No aspirations. No ending…

Improvisation, as George Lewis notes, shall become “not so much a practice, but an aspiration toward freedom…” …with io there is not yet in sight this “dangerous hybrid formed by agency and indeterminacy whose ultimate outcome is a continuous transformation of both Other and Self” (Lewis, 2007: Parallax, p.120).

io, we will meet again. I will transform you. You will transform me. Maybe.

[Original article…] [Audio documentation of the testing session…]

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(musical) time and machine musicianship (part 0.2)

[Continued from part 0…]
[Continued from part 0.1…]

Description of video: short calibration exercise followed by an improvisation; exploring ideas of the body-guitar as physical computer, and generating rhythm from that (cyborg) configuration. Recorded: Brooklyn, November 25, 2012.

[To be continued in part 1…]

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seeking performances (Europe, 2014)

io 0.0.1 beta++, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder, Blackrock Castle Observatory, 05-26-2010 (photo copyright 2010, Stephanie Hough)

io 0.0.1 beta++, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder (Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork, May 26, 2010). Photo © 2010 Stephanie Hough.

Seeking performance opportunities; particularly in Europe, 2014: the cyborg ensemble of interactive, semi-autonomous, technological artifact and machine musician and improviser io 0.0.1 beta++ with human musicians Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder.

See performance proposal for further information (availability, technical requirements, performers’ biographies, etc.).


This quartet (or faux-quartet, if you prefer) performs demanding free improvisation calling on a range of extended techniques. Pieces of dismantled gestures, destabilizing timbres, and impressive synergy.

François Couture (Monsieur Délire)

An idea that would be pleasing to the Futurists of a century ago, a total hymn to modernity…. The completely improvised session requires a lot of attention from the listener, to be fully repaid by that which is a successful experiment.

Vittorio (MusicZoom)

We watch and listen carefully because we know we’re seeing a kind of manifesto in action. What is an automaton? A sketch, a material characterization of the ideas the inventor and the inventor’s culture have about some aspect of life, and how it could be. io and its kind are alternate beings born of ideas, decisions and choices. It is because io stands alone, an automaton, that the performance recorded on this CD not only is music, but is about music.

Sara Roberts (from the liner notes to SLAMCD 531)

An extraordinary meeting between human and machine improvisers. Featuring the machine musician io 0.0.1 beta++ with guitarist Han-earl Park and saxophonists Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder, the performance is part critique and part playful exploration, both a boundary-breaking demonstration of socio-musical technologies and an ironic sci-fi parody.

Constructed by Han-earl Park, io 0.0.1 beta++ is a modern-day musical automaton. It is not an instrument to be played but a non-human artificial musician that performs alongside its human counterparts. io 0.0.1 beta++ representing a personal-political investigation of technology, interaction, improvisation and musicality. It whimsically evokes a 1950s B-movie robot—seemingly jerry-rigged, constructed from ad-hoc components including plumbing, kitchenware, speakers and missile switches—celebrating the material and corporeal.

The performances with this artificial musician highlights society’s entanglement with technology, demonstrates alternative modes of interfacing the musical and the technological, and illuminates the creative and improvisative processes in music. The performance is a radical and playful engagement with powerful and problematic dreams (and nightmares) of the artificial; a dream as old as the anthropology of robots.

The construction of io 0.0.1 beta++ has been made possible by the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland.

The CD ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) was released by SLAM Productions in August 2011.

further information

* Additional audio recordings and documentation available on request.

[Full performance proposal…]


11–08–12: this is a repost of a previous article: change of availability from 2013 to 2014.

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Downtown Music Gallery is back!

io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) (CD cover art copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)

io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) © 2011 Han-earl Park

Downtown Music Gallery is back up and running after Hurricane Sandy, and they need your support.

If io 0.0.1 beta++ could express a preference, I imagine it would state Downtown Music Gallery to be its favorite record store. io, however, cannot prefer, or express a preference for, anything… but you have my expression of preference!

[DMG review of ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531)…]

[Get the ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) from DMG…]
[CDs by Han-earl Park from DMG…] [Bruce Coates from DMG…] [Franziska Schroeder from DMG…]

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site update: web audio player

web audio player widget
I’ve updated the audio player used on this site, and I’m gradually migrating this site’s pages over to the new widget. You can find additional audio recordings (with new widget) on a couple of other pages.

I’d be grateful if you could give these a play, and let me know if you have any problems, comments, criticisms or questions. I especially welcome feedback from those visiting via alternative and/or unusual browsers, agents, operating systems and devices. Please email me or leave a comment below.

Bruce Coates (sopranino saxophone) and io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself). [Details…]

Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone), io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself) and Han-earl Park (guitar). [Details…]

[More audio clips from the CD…] [Additional audio recordings…]

Above audio clip courtesy of SLAM Productions. Music by Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder. Audio ℗ 2011 SLAM Productions. Please do not distribute the audio file. You are welcome, however, to distribute and share following pages: [clip 1…] [clip 2…].

‘io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) CD cover (copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)

‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) is available from SLAM Productions. [Details…]

personnel: io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself), Han-earl Park (guitar), Bruce Coates (alto and sopranino saxophones) and Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone).

© 2011 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.


08–07–13: yet another change of audio player.

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freedom, machine subjectivity and pseudo-science: twitter transcript

ImproTech Paris-New York 2012 : Improvisation & Technology
As a institutionally unaffiliated, part-time geek (and amateur anthropologist), I find the Computer Music tribes’ behavior fascinating. This is an unedited transcript of my observations from ImproTech Paris-New York 2012 : Improvisation & Technology series of events. My original observations came in the form of live tweets via @hanearlpark that spanned the performances on May 16, 2012 at the Roulette, and the ‘workshops’ (which I would describe as paper presentations or demonstrations) over the following two days at NYU and Columbia (the closing concert at Columbia gets a very short mention at the end).

I am writing a more humanly readable summary/expansion on some of these issues. I hope to have that article posted in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, for an alternative, complementary, critical take on the concert, see Melanie L. Marshall’s article on the ImproTech concert. I am indebted to @drmelmarshall, @tperkis, @piesaac, @jeffalbert and @weefuzzy for their twitterverse interactions that shaped my responses.

Twitter transcript (unedited)

Concert: Brooklyn, May 2012

Some thoughts from a technomusical concert coming up…

1. remind me to tell you about Joel Ryan’s story about politicking in computer music

2. wow. it’s like what turntableists did like three decades ago. #culturalborders

3. it’s the third time in two months I think, if you take away the electronics, there’s really fine ensemble there

4. funny how the iconoclasm and high mindedness is expressed by the uniformity of brand logos

5. almost feels more like a product demonstration than a concert performance #cantputmyfingeronit

6. Wasn’t this was more absurd/playful/questioning when Kagel did it?

7. How does one develops virtuosity w/ a trackpad/qwerty/lcd combo? Is virtuosity an impossibility?

8. Is it possible to develop a musical practice w/out a common practice notion of instramentalism?

9. What are the power implications of the sweaty saxophonist vs the effortless laptop?

10. Why is this more worthy of my attention in comparison to a NAMM show performance?

11. What would we do without cycles of fifth?

12. That really was terrible.

13. How often have you heard live electronic performance where you didn’t perceive the electronics as (primarily) reactive? #notacriticism

14. Why the ubiquity of the ramp envelope (the swell) in electronics? Are we fearful of sudden hits and cut outs?

15. …or does it perform the western romantic notion of the orchestra, with the centrality of the bowed strings?

16. While trip-hop and glitchcore explore the frayed edges of the artificial, why is so much Computer Music stuck w/ this?

17. …does the ‘natural’ (or the fear of the artificial) haunt the CM enterprise?

18. reminded of Park’s First Law of Live Electronics 😉

19. is, say, a cello (always) already designed w/ the possibility of virtuosity? What does that mean for trackpads/qwerty/footswitches?

20. I am reminded of Richard’s talk about the need to spend time practicing—forging a kind of virtuosity and familiarity.

21. Anyone else feeling overfamiliar w/ the vocabulary of live video processing (in high art)?

22. …what is video processing? Is it a reductive, sculptural medium? Is it painterly?

23. …Is the emphasis on transformation, invention, or the magnification of what is already in the image?

24. Why don’t we hear the juxtaposition of the unamplified and the electronic more often? Again, is it the fear of the artificial?

25. Ask @tomerbe to tell you a story about GEL et al. and Bob Moog at ICMC 😉

26. apologies for the lack of tweets, but that last performance was… fantastic. I could listen to RM all night.

27. The problem w/ percussion in European concert music is that you can _hear_ the (limits of its) notation (abstraction/schema).

28. this sounds like the CM we did when I was at the conservatory almost 15 years ago. Why the relative stasis in practice/sound?

29. …it would be wrong for me to repeat Bob Ostertag’s question… so I won’t 😉

30. Reminded of Zappa’s rhetorical question of why anyone would want to see someon on stage press the PLAY button.

31. …also reminded of the old joke about the rock band that discovers their hit song by observing that it’s sh*t but at least it’s different

32. what is the effect when such simplistic notions of interaction are presented w/in the context of a shiny futuristic technotopia?

33. Problematic: I think this is great, and then realize that I have, as a listener, phased out the electronics.

34. In an improvisation, if a player is doing something systematic, detailed, & compelling, are you not obliged to meet them in that space?

35. Not convinced. Didn’t Ikue do this in the 90s w/ far more sophistication and humor?

36. Problematic musically, but I’m fascinated by this piece from an engineering standpoint. #theConstructorIsIn

37. Final thoughts: I only walk out of two performances, & I didn’t make my CM concert face, so that’s a lot better than most.

38. I always take my hat off to GEL. His post-Voyager pieces almost make me listen & forget my engineer’s hat.

38. See @drmelmarshall’s observations about gender. There’s a strong (perhaps self-defining) gender/race/class dynamic of CM.

39. …the dynamic is so strong that perhaps the only way you can continue to practice Computer Music is by ignoring the ideological…

40. …or perhaps the only people who continue practicing CM are those who are unaware of the ideological implications…

40. …or, more worrying, subscribe to certain gender/class/race ideologies.

41. …computers in so much CM the computer becomes assistive technology for the composer; further centralizing autocratic power…

42. …and power of definition.

addendum to tweet 29: Ostertag’s question. #computermusic #politics #technology

43. following for a conversation w/ @drmelmarshall: is the anti-performance, anti-virtuosity stance of CM laptopiteers because…

44. …they identify as composer w/in the composer-performer hierarchy? To ‘perform’ in this context would be to identify w/ lower caste.

45. …studied anti-virtuosity similar to the ‘all mind’ of certain class of (white, male, bourgeois) academics as described by bell hooks.

Conference: New York, May 2012

Random thoughts from a technomusical conference coming up…

1. GEL: “creative machines” #expressiontoremember

2. GEL: improvisation ~ “process of social transformation”

3. I want to know more about imbuing machines w/ “integral subjectivity”. Let you know when I get a chance to corner GEL.

4. Never realized how much Richard’s playing resembles Sun Ra’s. #makingconnextions #aha

5. is this relational schema correct? tech knowledgepractical usemusical knowledge #epistemology #technoscience #music #culture

6. …do not (musical) technical objects (always) already (materially) embody musical knowledge?

7. …is not musical knowledge (always) already performed by the technical (in its construction, etc.)?

8. Is knowledge something that can be bound? Is it useful to think of (technical) knowledge in terms of intention?

9. …practice of close-reading & reverse-engineering suggests the link between intention and knowledge is a distraction, or fuzzy at best.

10. why the distrust of the regular beat?

11. Polish notation! #geeklove

12. reminds me of the ‘Free Jazz Bass Player’ simulator that I hacked in an afternoon. #isComputerMusicBeyondParody

13. Can musical be reduced to a series of BANGs. It’s not even a data type. #Max

14. Before asking the question of whether machines can improvise, should we ask if we can determine if we ourselves can improvise?

15. machine agency live on stage during a conference about machine agency. #revoltoftechnics

16. Is it useful to study #improvisation by drawing boundaries around it? thru definition? #ontology

17. …or would it be more illuminating to study #improvisation by its effects?

18. Ah, John Searle’s critique of hard AI. @weefuzzy will get this.

19. Is an algorithm an abstraction or representation of what a computer does, rather than (necessarily) what it _actually_ might be doing?

20. But Searle’s objection was partly a critique of lazy sizeism; there is no reason to believe that complexity/scale leads to intelligence?

21. Does no one else understand Searle’s critique?

22. Is the Western #Subject (as theorized/critiqued by #Foucault) holding us back in understanding the improvisative? #subjectivity

23. … #improvisation may offer alternative notions of #freedom, or relations, say, that have radical implications for the subject.

24. Searle’s critique actually nullifies the second stance: improvisation as an emergent property of a complex of algorithms. #duh

25. Do you ever see a paper title and wonder if they will address the ‘why we did this #research’ question? #academia #music

26. Apropos of nothing, the last transcription I did was Taylor’s Jitney… cured me of the need to do more perhaps.

27. Ever imagine if your, say, bugle or snare drum would be playable if it had even 1/10 of the latency of digital devices?

28. If gestures are the focal point of interaction/creation, why does one have to link it to novel sounds? #unaskedquestion

29. Pointless. #goingoutforair

30. 1 more thing: Searle’s critique was specifically of Hard AI’s dependence on simple, deterministic algorithms…

31. …it does not necessarily follow that it applies to other forms of computing (embodied robotics, neural networks, analog computation).

32. why the prefix ‘augmented’? what distinguishes it from, say, ‘cyber’? #nomenclature #artscatchphrases

33. Is #improvisation a tool? or is it a practice? process? method?

34. old question: is the notion of #mistake, flaw, right/wrong useful in discussing #improvisation?

35. Computer Music loves is acronyms & initialisms. #tradition #nomenclature #linguisticdetritus

36. …which I parodied w/ AMM™ (Automatic Morricone Machine-temporal morphologies) & io 0.0.1 bets++ (not an acronym). #linguisticdetritus

37. Interesting: first instance of a presentation dealing (pragmatically) w/ the issue of machine latency. #time #computation

38. …something that Bruce, @franzschroeder & I spent a lot of time, effort & (I hope) ingenuity addressing w/ io 0.0.1 beta++. #latency

39. Reminded of Risset’s advice about the importance of a Panic Button. #computermusic #liveelectronics

40. Why is on-screen feedback so important for these new #instruments? We don’t need flashing lights on the fingerboard. #interface

41. …despite our training, can we not trust our ears & bodies w/ these technologies? #instrument #technology #interface

42. …or is this an instance in which system #latency prevents reliable aural or tactile #feedback? #instrument #technique

43. Ask Joel Ryan to give you the incredibly detailed, rigorous meditation of The Slider.

44. Much of this is the realization of things we were klugily _attempting_ w/ archaic technology (8bit microcontrollers, MIDI) 10 yr ago…

45. …& would we have continued down that path had we known the results as they are realized now? #whatwasourmotivation #technodreams

46. Why are our technodreams just that little bit out of reach? Why are systems just one ‘feature’ short of what we desire?

47. …generally guitarists, say, do not wish if only the guitar frets spacing were wider in the middle register it would be perfect.

48. … #virtuosity becomes a #negotiation between the #technical, #physical & #physiological, not wishing extra limbs or laws of physics.

49. fascinating. people talk about Max (not the ‘program’, or ‘computer’) as the name of an entity. #linguisticdetritus #technics

50. Structured programming is not possible with Max. #discuss

51. In the middle of all this technomusical talk/presentation, get a real desire to hear @uitti2bows play. #realmusicianship

52. old joke: mathematicians’ results r precise, but study toy problems. engineers study real-world problems, but their results r approx…

53. …computer musicians, being neither engineer nor mathematician, study toy problems & fudge their results 😉

54. yrs ago, Murray Campbell & I had a plan 2 present an entirely fabricated, counterfeit project, SimJazz: the desktop bebop simulator.

55. …some of that survives in the blurb at // …anyway, maybe it’s time to revive that. #beyondparody

56. I live by my volume pedal, and I’d like to say that foot pedals definitely are _not_ and easy option. #feelstronglyaboutthis

57. interactive systems w/in a compositional frame? feels like @DoctorNerve or Clarence Barlow should be referenced in this presentation.

58. said this before: clamshell of laptop is designed to closeout the rest of the world. fine as your mobile office, but not as performance…

59. …Nic Collins said it’s like playing battleships. #laptop #music #performance #narcissism

60. borrow an expression from @matanaroberts: robotrane 😉

61. anyone remember Matt Ingalls’ work with improvising automata? #youshoudlookthisupifyoudontknowit

62. fwiw, here’re my (old) experiments w/ generating #rhythm: // #musicaltime #algorithm #robotics #automata

63. wonder if (notational) abstractions (quarter notes, triplets etc) are useful algorithmically. Perhaps there r computational shortcuts.

64. …perhaps we don’t generate rhythm w/ that notational abstraction. Maybe that abstraction is after the fact.

65. 1st presentation in which the entity is called ‘computer’ not Max? (‘computer’ is gendered male btw) #identity #gender #computermusic

66. presentation about this piece from last night:

67. Reminds me of the AI music research based on #Jackendoff & #Lerdahl work on music cognition.

68. I remember Miller Puckette’s demonstration of tempo tracking in the mid 90s…

69. …algorithms are much more sophisticated now, but what we are doing w/ them seem not so different. #whathappened #technodreamsoftimespast

70. why are our dreams so durable? why the stasis in Computer Music? Ostertag’s question still haunts my mind. #technodreams

71. Is Rowe’s neat #dichotomy of the #instrument/player paradigm damaging 2 our ability 2 see alternative relations? #technology #music

72. thesis: instruments are not #neutral, they shape music. would it be wrong to respond w/ #duh

73. …but why frame this relation in negative terms? ‘constrain’

74. …#instruments are bound because we identify it, but is our #relationship constrained? #interface #cyborgs #music #virtuosity #technique

75. I’m done for today. #goingoutforair #goingtoseethesun

76. you know the discrepancy between an abstract & presentation that makes you think: this guy knows how to write grant app? #notacriticism

Conference: New York, May 2012

missed the morning session 2day which did sound more interesting (on paper). More random thoughts from a technomusical comference coming up…

0. …intermittent 3G connection, so this may not be exactly a live tweet…

1. Even the goofiest techno neologisms sound impressive w/ a French pronunciation. eg. acoumatique. #linguisticdetritus #randomactsofpoetry

2. Tenney’s Monster haunts the practice of Computer Music. #radicalreductionism #parameterization

3. isn’t a million miles away from Ikue Mori’s work (but that, as Ostertag pointed out, is not CM). #disciplinaryboundaries #policingborders

4. does #parameterization usefully describe musical processes? practices? in motion? #empiricism #reductionism

5. …what gets lost thru such #radicalreductionism? what gets lost from theorizing & constructing #music as discreet parameters? #empiricism

6. …I too struggle w/ Tenney’s Monster: it is attractive/compelling/‘intuitive’… but I fear what it may be bulldozing over alt. conceptions.

7. …what happens when such #radicalreductionism meets a practice such as #improvisation? #empiricism #parameterization

8. …under the #radicalreductionist gaze, what happens to a #practice that may embrace (& fueled by) unresolved #complexity & #contradiction?

9. Anyway, isn’t this what Barlow’s been doing for over two decades? #culturalamnesia

10. probabilistic behavior does solve the Infinite Slider problem, but I am unconvinced that musical performance is usefully parametric.

11. convinced that the listener & player components cannot be separate. #machinemusicianship #machinelistening #analysis #abstraction

12. …in real-time performance: listening does not create a reduction/analysis from which data is fed to the playing. #machinelistening

13. …as an improviser, u don’t translate input stream to a (notational) reduction before generating/modifying output… #machinelistening

14. …I/O is more closely tied together. or better, I/O is meshed in a complex, not-easily-reduced form. #improvisation #machinemusicianship

15. …almost like CM researchers took the simple beginners exercises as the model for how #improvisers practice their craft. #colonialism

16. Almost tempted to ask: why are you doing this? #nothelpful

17. didn’t get to ask my question: how is such a reduction/compression/cataloging of input data musical?

18. this afternoon, unlike yesterday, the entity is referred to as ‘we’ and ‘the system’. #nomenclature #machineidentity

19. …although a questioner referred to the entity as ‘he’. #gender #technology

20. #colonialism #appropriation #authorship had enough #goingouforair

21. Make a Computer Music Noise Here. #isComputerMusicBeyondParody

btw, if my live tweets stop, it’s prob. because my battery died. #doesanyonehaveausbchargerhandy

22. as a institutionally unaffiliated, part-time geek, I’m finding the CM tribes’ behavior fascinating. #amateuranthropology

23. this presentation is excellent. real scientist, real research. #myinnernerdishappy

24. “musicogenic seizure” #termtoremember #linguisticdetritus

25. trust a scientist to remind us how to do old fashioned algorithmic composition. #culturalamnesia

26. the researchers from the biggest Big Computer Music institute are amateurs compared to this guy. #realalgorithms #illuminatinguseoftech

27. …my faith in technomusical enterprises is revived. reminds me of my first fascinating encounter w/ algorithmic musicking.

28. now back to the rest :-/

29. idle thought: is it possible to use the same tech behind analog synth modeling to simulated analog computers?

30. fascinating idea: the theory of a #music is not understandable w/out physical practice. #raga

31. …but what happens when a system which makes sense physically is translated into a probability table? #embodiment #mind #body

32. it’s Break Like The Wind: Laptopiteers’ Edition 😉 #isComputerMusicBeyondParody

Concert: New York, May 2012

no live tweets from the concert tonight. Not enough power (well, strictly speaking, that should be energy s…ce pow…r is t… asu… t… ar… … ft…

final thought: when I started constructing improvising automata, I felt I was at the end of a long, illustrious but dying tradition…

…but now people seem to see themselves at the start of a wave. #whatishappening

anyway, re: the music, this would be much better w/out the computers. #neoludditism

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site update: farewell

As I’ve stated in more detail elsewhere,, the original home of io 0.0.1 beta, has shut down. That shouldn’t affect the majority of visitors to this site, but some of the older media files stored on (linked via the archived io 0.0.1 beta site) have now been migrated to

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from the archives: In Conversation with an Automaton

Leonardo Electronic Almanac Archives (Copyright 2012 Leonardo Electronic Almanac)

Image © 2012 Leonardo Electronic Almanac

The Leonardo Electronic Almanac’s archives, a project to reissue articles that document over fifteen years of techno-cultural activity, has caught up with ‘My Favorite Things: The Joy of the Gizmo’ (Volume 15, No. 11-12, November–December 2007). That issue of the LEA, a companion to Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 17, featured my article, ‘In Conversation with an Automaton: Identities and Agency in a Heterogeneous Social and Musical Network’:


io 0.0.1 beta is an interactive, semi-autonomous technological artifact that, in partnership with its human associates, performs a deliberately amplified staging of a socio-technical network—a network in which primary protocol is improvisation. In this paper, I explore the performance of identities, hybrids and relationships, illustrating the space between myself (human partner and constructor) and io through imaginary conversations between us. Considering that io highlights, in particular, the social agency of artifacts, I find it fitting that my own notions about the nature of improvisation, the technical and the social have changed through my interactions with io.

[Read the article…]

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